- Figure is enough to give all public sector workers an extra 1% pay rise
- Total overpayments by Dept for Work and Pensions in 2016-17 were £3.5bn
- Officials clawed back £1.1bn; that still left £2.4bn lost to fraud and incompetence
- Senior politicians blamed a ‘farcical’ computer system for the scandal
Taxpayers have been robbed of a staggering £2.4 billion in the past year in welfare benefits through fraud and in payments made in error by officials.
The figure is more than enough to give all public sector workers an extra one per cent pay rise at a time when there is pressure to end the austerity cap on their wages.
Total overpayments by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2016-17 were £3.5 billion, according to figures released last week.
Officials clawed back £1.1 billion but that still left £2.4 billion lost to fraud and incompetence.
Last night, senior politicians blamed a ‘farcical’ computer system for the scandal and called on Ministers to ‘get a grip’ of the scandal.
Fraud alone totalled £2 billion before money was recovered – up by £400 million on the previous year.
The 25 per cent rise comes despite a dedicated anti-fraud unit being set up last year on the instructions of former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
The remaining £1.5 billion was wrongly paid out because of clerical errors.
Labour MP Frank Field, the Work and Pensions Committee chairman, said: ‘They have no idea how much money they are losing. I believe the real figure could be even higher.’
He claimed that the loss of thousands of jobs at the DWP meant that it ‘simply does not have the staff any more to check up on claimants to see if they are genuine.
The farcical computerisation of the benefits system has been a gift to fraudsters and gangs who know how to play the system.’